Book review: "I left nothing inside on purpose" by Stevie Howell

I left nothing inside on purpose  

I received a copy of "I left nothing inside on purpose" by Stevie Howell from Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for a free and honest review.

 

I was attracted to this poetry collection by its title and cover. I admit that I had not heard of Stevie Howell before receiving the book, but as I would like to educate myself more on contemporary Canadian writers and poets, I was excited to read this collection.

About author

 

Stevie Howell is an Irish-Canadian writer & editor. A first collection of poetry, Sharps (Goose Lane, 2014), was a finalist for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. A second book, I left nothing inside on purpose, is forthcoming spring 2018 from Penguin Random House Canada.

 

Stevie’s poetry has appeared in The Best Canadian Poetry, Hazlitt, The Walrus, Geist, Eighteen Bridges, & Maisonneuve; in U.S. publications including BOAAT, Prelude, Prairie Schooner, The Cossack Review, Gigantic Sequins, & The Best American Poetry site; & in Irish & U.K. publications including The Rialto, The Moth, Southword, & Banshee. Their critical writing has been published in Ploughshares, The Rumpus, National Post, The Globe & Mail, & Quill & Quire.

 

Stevie is the poetry editor at This Magazine, an MFA candidate in creative writing at NYU, & lives in Brooklyn.

 

Review

 

"I left nothing inside on purpose" blew me away. Considering the size of the book - just a handful of pages - I expected myself to breeze through it. Instead, I spent almost a month going through it page by page, discovering more and more hidden gems between broken lines and slanted dashes.

 

Rich in symbolism and intricate in its form, Stevie’s poetry made me pause over and over to reassess what I was reading and feeling. I will be honest - it took me some time to get used to slashes and ampersands, but by the end of the book, I couldn’t imagine it being any other way.

 

I love books that make me take a moment and think. More so, I love books that make me google things that I don’t know as it does not happen very often (for example, an extraordinary case and life of Clive Wearing). Reading "I left nothing inside on purpose" felt like going on a long voyage: suffering from the unyielding heat, experiencing thirst and hunger, facing danger, making unlikely friends, and finally reaching the desired shores, weathered and more experienced than before. I am certain that this poetry collection is going to be a book I keep returning to, as I feel as if I have not explored all of its depths.

 

I kept delaying writing this review as I felt - and still feel - unequipped to review something so intricate and sophisticated. As always, in cases of the books that make me feel inadequate and simple, I suggest that you pick up a copy of "I left nothing inside on purpose" and read it for yourself. Dissecting and analyzing Stevie’s poems feels blasphemous.

 

Whatever misconceptions or prejudices you might have against contemporary poetry (something I can not relate to at any level), do consider giving “I left nothing inside on purpose” a go. It has to be experienced on your own.

 

Highly recommend.

 

Rating: 4.5 stars

 

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Book review: Take Me with You by Andrea Gibson (poetry)

Take Me with You

I discovered Andrea Gibson from The Morning Show on Global, which I have been watching religiously for the past 5 years. They invited Andrea as part of Take Me with You, poetry collection, release promotion, and it was the first time I ever heard the name. I was instantly intrigued.

After discovering Rupi Kaur and falling in love with her artistic and melodic performance of poetry, I have been keeping my eyes open for more contemporary poets, even though my tastes primarily lie within classics or speculative genres.

Immediately after the show, I went to my library website and put Take me with You on hold.

Summary

 

For readers of Rupi Kaur (Milk and Honey) and Cheryl Strayed, a book small enough to carry with you, with messages big enough to stay with you, from one of the most quotable and influential poets of our time.

 

Andrea Gibson explores themes of love, gender, politics, sexuality, family, and forgiveness with stunning imagery and a fierce willingness to delve into the exploration of what it means to heal and to be different in this strange age. Take Me With You, illustrated throughout with evocative line drawings by Sarah J. Coleman, is small enough to fit in your bag, with messages that are big enough to wake even the sleepiest heart. Divided into three sections (love, the world, and becoming) of one liners, couplets, greatest hits phrases, and longer form poems, it has something for everyone, and will be placed in stockings, lockers, and the hands of anyone who could use its wisdom.

 

Review

 

I read Andrea Gibson’s Take Me with You poetry collection in one go while having my morning coffee. The poems range from raw and open, bleeding across the pages, - to cute and funny (there are sketches of dogs!), - to the ones which sound like a battle cry against injustice, patriarchy, discrimination. It is the poetry that is saturated with the world’s problems and political views, and I can not imagine anything more relevant nowadays. I found myself both nodding my head in agreement and holding back tears when some of those poems struck too close home.

 

I can’t recommend Take Me with You enough. So, I will just say - read it. The world is a better place with this book on the shelves. I will leave you with this one poem:

Take Me with You

About author

 

Andrea Gibson is an award-winning poet and activist who lives in Boulder, Colorado. Their poetry focuses on gender norms, politics, social reform and the struggles LGBTQ people face in today's society. In addition to using poetry to express what they feel and provide social and political commentary on real issues, they are involved with many activist groups. They often perform at Take Back the Night events, LGBTQ events, pride events, trans events, anti-war rallies, peace rallies, organizations against the occupation of Palestine, and groups focused on examining the wrongs of capitalism, patriarchy and white supremacy. They also work with a group called Vox Feminista whose model is to "comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable" on all these issues. Throughout the year, they tour Universities and other venues across the country.

 

Rating: 4 stars

 

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Book review: "Long Way Down" by Jason Reynolds

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds  

I received this book from NetGalley. I requested it after reading the description and thought it would be very interesting to read. I didn’t have much hope for getting the ARC as I am not always successful with big publishers, and Long Way Down is published by Simon & Schuster Canada.

 

Long Way Down is the first book by Jason Reynolds that I have read, even though I heard about All American Boys before.

 

Short synopsis

An ode to Put the Damn Guns Down, this is National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestseller Jason Reynolds’s fiercely stunning novel that takes place in sixty potent seconds—the time it takes a kid to decide whether or not he’s going to murder the guy who killed his brother.

 

This novel is written in verse and is saturated with grief, anger, and pain. I read it in one sitting - and this is how you are supposed to read it, in my opinion - because I couldn’t put it down. It was a very raw and emotional read that was making me more and more uncomfortable and horrified.

 

ALERT: Do not read the full synopsis on NetGalley or GoodReads as it will spoil you the whole thing. And it is too wonderful to be spoiled. I didn’t read past that first paragraph and found the prose to be very profound.

 

 

This book is a cry for help; an angry shout-out. It talks about gun violence, gang violence, poverty, loss, grief. The narrative is both heartbreaking and brutal. It strong enough to leave the mark. It sure did leave the mark on me. It is a hard to describe because it has to be experienced.

 

Read it. And weep. Because this shouldn’t be our reality in this day and age.

 

Publication Date: 17 Oct 2017

 

Links

 

Jason Reynold's website
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TIFF 2013 - Kill Your Darlings

Originally written: SEPTEMBER 10, 2013 Kill Your Darlings Movie Poster

"Kill Your Darlings" is a 2013 American biographical drama film written by Austin Bunn and directed by John Krokidas. The story is about the college days of some of the earliest members of the Beat Generation (Lucien Carr, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, and Jack Kerouac), their interactions, and the killing in Riverside Park in Manhattan, New York City.

My luck was back today as I got to see Kill Your Darlings with Daniel Radcliffe. The start time was at 6.30om at Roy Thompson Hall. Seeing as yesterday the rush line was enormous for August: Osage County I didn’t really have much hope.

I arrived at the venue at 4.50pm and was surprised to see that the line was tiny. There were about 30-35 people ahead of me. It must have been the heat. Today was a crazy weather - almost +35C and high humidity. I doubted that I would be able to stay in the heat for so long to get a ticket.

Surprisingly, it was not that bad and I did have an umbrella with me. I met a nice teenaged boy from Ukraine with whom we talked about the movies and life and Canada.

The line started to slowly move around 6.25pm. At 6.50pm we were almost at the front of the line, and the movie was rolling credits. We were among the last 8 people to be admitted! I was lucky again!

We missed a couple of minutes of the movie though. It was also the venue with the tightest security I have seen at TIFF. We were directed all the way to the box office and then to the mezzanine with an insane amount of staff at each step, directing us where to stand and walk in one line. That was pretty strange after being left to our own devices at other venues the moment we got inside. Maybe it was so, because of some other events going at the venue (like a drinks/buffet for the sponsors at the terrace - but maybe it was unrelated).

I loved the movie. It was brilliantly shot and very emotional. The way some memories scenes unfolded through back motions and a bit surreal (in terms of very contemporary sounding music - contemporary for our age, that is) was mesmerizing. Daniel was amazing. I forgot that he used to play Harry Potter and was a British actor. All I saw was Allen Ginsberg.

I loved the emotions and how every character had his own demons to fight. How they wanted to make changes and were experimenting with everything, trying to define the norm. It was all about booze, smoke/drugs, sex and writing. They surely had fun.

I would love to see it again.

Also, not really recommended for anyone under 18, as there were quite a lot of racy themes.

There were no Q&As at the end, although the whole cast was sitting in the audience! The beam was light was directed at them after the credits started to roll and they all stood up. (Daniel is so adorably short!) I would have loved to have Q&As with them, but seeing as they were sitting at the balcony and not below, it was obvious that there would be none.

I think it is pretty cool that they stayed to watch the movie though. I honestly didn’t stay till the end of the credits, so I am not sure if anything happened afterwards.

That is the last time I was rushing the ticket this year. I am going to see three more movies (Blind Detective, Cold Eyes and Violette) but I have the tickets for all of them.

Stay tuned!